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7 Mar 2024


EU: Belgian presidency seeks compromise on due diligence law

"Exclusive: Governments mull last-chance bid for stripped-down corporate diligence law", 6 March 2024

Negotiators are seeking a last-ditch compromise on new EU corporate supply-chain rules, as opposition from Italy and Germany and looming elections threaten to quash hopes for the environmental law...

In a document dated 5 March and seen by Euronews, the Belgian government – which currently chairs the EU Council grouping of member states – is seeking wide-ranging changes to address their concerns.

Belgium’s new plan means the law only applies to businesses with more than 1000 employees and €300m in worldwide turnover, doubling thresholds set out in the previous draft, and removing a carve-out that allows a more cautious approach for high-risk sectors like clothing, agriculture and mining.

The fresh proposal constrains civil liability rules that would allow trade unions or activists to sue companies for breaches, and there’d be a phased approach so the law only applies after five years for smaller companies.

“The Presidency considers that the overall compromise proposed is balanced and should enable an agreement on the text,” the document said, inviting ambassadors to endorse the text at a forthcoming meeting which could be as soon as this Friday (8 March).

An EU diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to Euronews that there were “informal talks” taking place on the legislation as Belgium seeks to find a way through before European Parliament elections in June.

At a press conference on 28 February, lead lawmaker Lara Wolters (Netherlands/Socialists and Democrats) said that last-ditch attempts by governments to block the law were an “outrage” that showed they were listening to big business rather than voters...

On Wednesday morning (6 March), protestors gathered outside the French embassy to push for agreement on the law, saying that governments had not been playing fair in the campaign to limit environmental damage and human rights abuses.